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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sunmaster

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Angelica Balabanoff

In 1919 Angelica Balabanoff was appointed secretary of the Comintern. The following year she was the main translator at the the Second Congress of the Communist International in Moscow. According to the author of Strange Communists I Have Known (1966): "The order of business for the Second Congress had been determined by Lenin. Having concluded that the great push for world revolution had failed, and with it the attempt to smash the old socialist parties and trade unions, Lenin set it as the task of all revolutionaries to return to or infiltrate the old trade unions. As always, Lenin took it for granted that whatever conclusion he had come to in evaluation and in strategy and tactics was infallibly right. In the Comintern, as in his own party, his word was law."

John Reed and other members of the Communist Party of the United States and the Communist Party of Great Britain disagreed with this policy and tried to start a debate on the subject. To do so, they needed to add English to the already adopted German, French and Russian, as an official language of debate. This idea was rejected. Reed became disillusioned with the way Lenin had become a virtual dictator of Russia. Balabanoff later recalled: "When he came to see me after the Congress, he was in a terrible state of depression. He looked old and exhausted. The experience had been a terrible blow."

Balabanoff found working with Lenin very difficult. According to Bertram D. Wolfe: "He (Lenin) tried in vain to accustom her to his single moral, or amoral, principle, that the means justifies the end, the end for the moment being the seizing, holding, and extension of power in width and depth. She watched with horror old socialists who had given their lives for "the cause" slandered, put back into the same jails the tsar had used, censored more ruthlessly and efficiently, silenced, destroyed."Balabanoff was especially upset by the way the rebelling sailors were dealt with at Kronstadt. In 1922 she left the Communist International.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSbalabanoff.htm

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hugo Gellert

Hugo Gellert caused a political storm when Elöre published his cartoon, Out of the War, in February 1916, that showed an armless veteran being spoon-fed. His anti-war cartoons were also published in other left-wing journals. James Wechsler has pointed out: "Hugo Gellert... is perhaps more infamous for his passionate commitment to leftist political agitation than for his contribution to American art, but Gellert strongly disavowed any distinction between the two. He professed that, for him, political agitation and art were the same thing."

In 1917 Hugo's brother, Ernest Gellert, also a socialist, was drafted into the military but refused to serve on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector. He died of a gunshot wound while imprisoned at Fort Hancock, New Jersey. The army claims his death was a suicide but the circumstances are suspicious. Gellert fled to Mexico to avoid conscription but still continued to provide ant-war cartoons for left-wing newspapers and magazines.

Gellert returned to the USA after the war. He joined the American Communist Party and unfortunately, after that, he sacrificed his art for party propaganda. However, his early work is well worth searching out:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTgellert.htm

Henry J. Glintenkamp

Henry J. Glintenkamp was a cartoonist who regularly contributed to the radical journal, "The Masses". Glintenkamp, like most members of the cooperative that published "The Masses" believed that the First World War had been caused by the imperialist competitive system. After the USA declared war on the Central Powers in 1917, the journal came under government pressure to change its policy. When it refused to do this, the journal lost its mailing privileges. In July, 1917, it was claimed by the authorities that articles by Floyd Dell and Max Eastman and cartoons by Glintenkamp, Art Young and Boardman Robinson had violated the Espionage Act. Under this act it was an offence to publish material that undermined the war effort.

Glintenkamp fled the country but the others stood trial in April, 1918. Floyd Dell argued in court: "There are some laws that the individual feels he cannot obey, and he will suffer any punishment, even that of death, rather than recognize them as having authority over him. This fundamental stubbornness of the free soul, against which all the powers of the state are helpless, constitutes a conscious objection, whatever its sources may be in political or social opinion." The legal action that followed forced The Masses to cease publication. After three days of deliberation, the jury failed to agree on the guilt of Dell and his fellow defendants.

The second trial was held in January 1919. John Reed, who had recently returned from Russia, was also arrested and charged with the original defendants. Dell wrote in his autobiography, Homecoming (1933): "While we waited, I began to ponder for myself the question which the jury had retired to decide. Were we innocent or guilty? We certainly hadn't conspired to do anything. But what had we tried to do? Defiantly tell the truth. For what purpose? To keep some truth alive in a world full of lies. And what was the good of that? I don't know. But I was glad I had taken part in that act of defiant truth-telling." This time eight of the twelve jurors voted for acquittal. As the First World War was now over, it was decided not to take them to court for a third time.

Henry J. Glintenkamp eventually returned to the USA where he concentrated on painting rather than producing cartoons.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTglintenkamp.htm

The Masses

The Masses was founded in New York in 1911 by Piet Vlag, a Christian socialist. Another important financial backer was Amos Pinchot, a wealthy lawyer who supported a wide variety of progressive causes. Early members of the team included Art Young, Louis Untermeyer and John Sloan. Organised like a co-operative, artists and writers who contributed to the journal shared in its management.

Art Young later recalled: "I think we have the true religion. If only the crusade would take on more converts. But faith, like the faith they talk about in the churches, is ours and the goal is not unlike theirs, in that we want the same objectives but want it here on earth and not in the sky when we die."

Over the next few years The Masses published articles and poems written by people such as John Reed, Sherwood Anderson, Crystal Eastman, Hubert Harrison, Inez Milholland, Mary Heaton Vorse, Louis Untermeyer, Randolf Bourne, Dorothy Day, Helen Keller, William Walling, Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair, Amy Lowell, Mabel Dodge, Floyd Dell and Louise Bryant.

The Masses also published the work of important artists including John Sloan, Robert Henri, Alice Beach Winter, Mary Ellen Sigsbee, Cornelia Barns, Reginald Marsh, Rockwell Kent, Art Young, Boardman Robinson, Robert Minor, Lydia Gibson, K. R. Chamberlain, Stuart Davis, Hugo Gellert, George Bellows and Maurice Becker.

Members of the Masses cooperative believed that the First World War had been caused by the imperialist competitive system. The editor, Max Eastman and journalists such as John Reed who reported the conflict for The Masses, argued that the USA should remain neutral.

After the USA declared war on the Central Powers in 1917, The Masses came under government pressure to change its policy. When it refused to do this, the journal lost its mailing privileges. In July, 1917, it was claimed by the authorities that articles by Floyd Dell and Max Eastman and cartoons by Art Young, Boardman Robinson and Henry J. Glintenkamp had violated the Espionage Act. Under this act it was an offence to publish material that undermined the war effort.

Henry J. Glintenkamp fled the country for Mexico but the others stood trial in April, 1918. Floyd Dell argued in court: "There are some laws that the individual feels he cannot obey, and he will suffer any punishment, even that of death, rather than recognize them as having authority over him. This fundamental stubbornness of the free soul, against which all the powers of the state are helpless, constitutes a conscious objection, whatever its sources may be in political or social opinion." The legal action that followed forced The Masses to cease publication. After three days of deliberation, the jury failed to agree on the guilt of Dell and his fellow defendants.

The second trial was held in January 1919. John Reed, who had recently returned from Russia, was also arrested and charged with the original defendants. Dell wrote in his autobiography, Homecoming (1933): "While we waited, I began to ponder for myself the question which the jury had retired to decide. Were we innocent or guilty? We certainly hadn't conspired to do anything. But what had we tried to do? Defiantly tell the truth. For what purpose? To keep some truth alive in a world full of lies. And what was the good of that? I don't know. But I was glad I had taken part in that act of defiant truth-telling." This time eight of the twelve jurors voted for acquittal. As the First World War was now over, it was decided not to take them to court for a third time. However, this act of censorship had frightened off investors and the Masses was never to appear again.

You can see a collection of cartoons and front-page covers here:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTmasses.htm